By Ian Dipple Friday 30 August 2013 Updated: 30/08 10:24
A SENIOR doctor has raised fears patients in Redditch and Bromsgrove could lose their voice under any future NHS reforms.
Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, said there had already been whisperings within the NHS system about merging the three current CCGs to create a Worcestershire-wide body.
CCGs were created in April this year as part of the coalition government’s health reforms, but had existed behind the scenes for over a year before that. They took over responsibility from Worcestershire PCT for buying in healthcare services for their individual areas with the aim of putting more decison-making powers in the hands of local GPs.
But while Labour has committed to protecting CCGs, they would downgrade them to a clinical advisory role and nationally there have been accusations of CCGs acting in self-interest as well as concerns about whether some of them are too small to survive financially.
Dr Wells said repeated NHS reorganisations meant history was against them, but he warned if Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG was to be swallowed up into a larger organisation - as happened previously when Redditch and Bromsgrove PCT was merged into a county body - there was a real risk the needs of the patients in the two towns would be overlooked.
Writing on his blog on the CCG website he said: “I’m vehemently opposed to that as we would lose locality focus and influence, which are vitally important.
“It was because Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG exists as a distinct body that we were able to introduce option 2 (the Birmingham option) into the JSR process and continue our fight for the best possible outcome for our local hospital; and our work on community services such as the virtual ward.”
Redditch MP Karen Lumley said she would raise the issue when she met with Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter next week but she agreed with the ongoing review of hospital services it was vital a Redditch voice was maintained.
“Part of the re-organisation was to give power back to patients to choose, to give power back to local GPs best placed to decide their patients needs and make those decisions,” she said.
“Jonathan and the CCG has done a great job in representing us and if not for him vetoing those proposals in the beginning, A&E and maternity at the Alex would have already been downgraded and we would be having a different discussion to the one we are having now.”
Rebecca Blake, Labour’s Parliamentary spokeswoman for Redditch, said it beggared belief there could be any thought of centralising Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG when the Alex remained under threat.
“People in Redditch want local health services and the best chance of getting them is by having as many decisions as possible taken locally.”
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